Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer Bill Makler

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Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Theft Charge?

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Theft Charges come in many forms (i.e., Petty, Grand, Auto, Embezzlement). Just as in other cases, it can be confusing to understand these charges against you as well as the criminal process itself.  An experienced lawyer can be of assistance to you in this regard. In a free and confidential initial consultation, Santa Barbara Attorney William C. Makler can discuss with you the Theft charges facing you, a friend, or family member. If he takes your case, he will use his 20 years of criminal justice experience to get you the best possible outcome.

Contact attorney William C. Makler for more information and a free consultation. All communications are strictly confidential.

Hire a Lawyer Before You Say Anything!

It cannot be said often enough: No matter what you are charged with, you should usually not say anything to the police without a lawyer present. It is usually unwise to tell your side of the story or try to talk your way out of an arrest - you will quite possibly end up getting yourself in even more trouble. Dealing with the criminal justice system can be complex, and the guidance of an experienced lawyer is often very helpful.

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Petty Theft

Petty Theft is the unlawful taking of someone else's property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Petty theft is usually charged as a misdemeanor if it is a first offense, and the value of the property stolen is valued between $0 and $950. Petty theft can be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or by imprisonment in County jail for up to 6 months, or both. Petty Theft can be charged as a felony on your fourth offense under Penal Code section 666. A fourth conviction of Petty Theft can carry a maximum sentence of 16 months in state prison. Not all courts will charge a second Petty Theft as a felony. In fact, many courts do charge a second Petty Theft as a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the property taken and the time that has lapsed since the prior Petty Theft.  Where the item taken is valued at less than $50, an infraction in place of a misdemeanor is often offered.

Grand Theft

Grand Theft is committed when the money, labor, real or personal property take is valued at more than $950. Grand Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and is punishable by up to one year in county jail or 16 months in state prison.

Grand Theft Auto

Grand theft of an automobile occurs when someone takes another person’s car without permission, with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Grand theft requires that the property stolen have a value over $950. Grand Theft Auto is a felony, punishable with imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, 2, or 3 years.

Grand Theft Auto is defined in California Penal Code Section 487. In order to convict for grand theft auto the following case must be proven.

Every person who steals, takes, or drives away the automobile of another with the specific intent to deprive him/her permanently of his/her property is guilty of the crime of grand theft of an automobile in violation of Penal Code section 487h.

In order to prove this crime, each of the following elements must be proved:


1. A person took or drove away an automobile belonging to another person; and
2. When the person took or drove away the automobile, he/she had the specific intent to deprive the owner permanently of his/her property.


However, if a person is convicted of more than one grand theft auto offense, the punishment increases to imprisonment in the state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years and/or a fine up to $10,000. This enhancement applies to the following vehicles, as defined by California Penal Code Section 666.5:

A motor vehicle, as defined in Section 415 of the Vehicle Code ? Any trailer, as defined in Section 630 of the Vehicle Code - Any special construction equipment, as defined in Section 565 of the Vehicle Code - Any motorized vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code in violation of former Section 487h, or a felony violation of Section 496d regardless of whether or not the person actually served a prior prison term for those offenses

The enhancement must be found to be true by a jury, in a case that must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt, or admitted to by the defendant in open court, or by way of defendant’s plea of guilty or nolo contendere.

Call us now at (805) 892-4922 for a free, no obligation consultation, or fill in your information in the contact form to the right and Mr. Makler will get back to you as soon as possible, frequently within a few minutes.

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